21 questions

Michael McKean Tells a Lot of Lies

Name: Michael McKean
Age: 64
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Occupation: Actor, currently appearing on Broadway in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.  On Monday, 4/30, he’ll be appearing at the 92Y  alongside James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, director Michael Wilson and more in a discussion about the play.
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
E. B. White, because he read and understood New York like a book, and responded with clarity and (of course) style.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
On my first visit to Kenny Shopsin’s old place at Morton & Bedford, I had the cashew tomato-cream soup and the turkey-and-cranberry sandwich. A long-term relationship was formed that late winter of 1990.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I putter around the city doing what the weather will let me do, then head for the theater, where I put on someone else’s clothes and tell a lot of lies.
What was your first job in New York?
I was replacement guitar player in a band reforming to cash in on a late-breaking hit; we rehearsed for three months until the keyboardist and his dad (also our manager) had a falling out. I grabbed my Gibson and my pretty new clothes and went back to college.
What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
The beautiful, heartbreaking Porgy and Bess.
Do you give money to panhandlers?
Sometimes. And I’ll sometimes give to performers: Shun, the tap dancer, and the guy who can actually play the guitar.
What’s your drink?
Root beer.
How often do you prepare your own meals?
Rarely. When the missus is out of town, I’m at the diner.
What’s your favorite medication?
New York Diesel.
What’s hanging above your sofa?
A reproduction of the last page of Walt Kelly’s The Pogo Papers, a gift from Annette [O’Toole, his wife] (“Let’s walk for a spell in the cool an’ peaceful, chile … “).
How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Sixty bucks.
When’s bedtime?
I get horizontal around 12:30 a.m. but sleep is a crapshoot.
Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
The 14-year-old in me misses the old Times Square because it was attractively verboten; the grown-up hates the tourist crush on the weekends, but admires the vigorous economics.
What do you think of Donald Trump?
Can’t really comment, as I’m writing a film about him: Blowhard 2: Blow Harder!
What do you hate most about living in New York?
An archaic Metropolitan piss-elegance some people affect. If I wanted to look at dinosaurs, there’s the Natural History Museum.
Who is your mortal enemy?
I’ve yet to meet him/her. Old betrayals and slights hurt at the time, but they’ve left no scars. Not a grudge fan.
When’s the last time you drove a car?
February 27, 2012, Los Angeles.
How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
Not much.
Times, Post, or Daily News?
We get the Times delivered, but get the updates online.
Where do you go to be alone?
Riverside Park.
What makes someone a New Yorker?
Love of the old, acceptance of the new, and knowing where to get good tuna salad at any hour.

Michael McKean’s 21 Questions